When Reggie Jackson woke up from a nap and learned he had been traded to the Detroit Pistons, he sent out a couple tweets of joy. He also cried tears of joy. He meant no disrespect to the Oklahoma City Thunder or its fans, who he later thanked in a series of tweets (here, here and here), but as Kevin Durant acrimoniously said, Jackson got what he wanted.
Jackson's desire to get out of OKC has been clear since he seemingly said the wrong thing in October -- "I'm just trying to fill my role while I'm here." He reportedly turned down a generous 4-year, $48 million extension offer and had his sights set on restricted free agency. It wasn't just about the money; he wanted a promotion and to be the guard. He wasn't ever going to get that opportunity in OKC behind Russell Westbrook.
One shouldn't fault Jackson for being confident and wanting a bigger role, but he did a poor job handling an imperfect situation. When he got a chance to show off his leadership skills when Westbrook and Durant were out with injury, Jackson's play was overbearing and selfish, so much that his teammates compounded the issue by trying to freeze him out. When Westbrook and Durant returned, and Jackson's minutes started to diminish, especially after the Dion Waiters trade, so did Jackson's production.
The divide between Jackson and the Thunder was real, according to Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN. Jackson's locker was supposedly on the opposite side of the leaders of the team, like Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, and although Waiters was first set up next to Jackson, he was moved across the room a couple days later.
Once he made his intentions known, there was no chance of integration in OKC for Jackson, who felt like he became the team whipping boy (via Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo!):
"... I became the brunt of the blame there," Jackson said. "Everything bad that happened, I was the scapegoat. I'm taking all this blame, and I'm wondering: 'How am I supposed to change it all here, make an impact, in eight minutes a game?' Everybody is jumping down my neck, and it gets annoying when I'm supposed to have this great impact playing so little this season.
"All of a sudden, I'm the bad locker room guy. I'm the problem..."
Jackson is excited to prove that he's not the bad locker room guy. He got off on the right foot with the Pistons on Friday night, celebrating feverishly in a suit next to injured Brandon Jennings as rookie point guard Spencer Dinwiddie had the best game of his career. After the game, Jackson couldn't stop grinning, raving about the opportunity to play with a great, young group of guys, most of whom, he just met.
It will take time to win over his teammates, but it starts with management and the coach, and Van Gundy believes in him:
"... it just means so much to have someone finally believe in you. I'm Stan's point guard now, and I want that responsibility. He can cuss me out in the film room, do whatever he needs to do for this team and me, because at least now I have control on the court. That's all I ever wanted."
"This is my shot now,"
Jackson got what he wanted. Now it's up to him to make this shot count.
Now your thoughts.